Today’s Illustration: Consider Eternity

why heart

The structure behind “Today’s Illustrations” is as follows.  They . . . .

  • are based on true events and/or people
  • begin with a stated historical reference – On This Day
  • layout the basic information and/or history of the event and/or person
  • provide additional links if one wants to learn more about it
  • include quotations and actual historical comments from other sources
  • provide potential “Key Illustrative Thoughts”


On This Day:

September 1, 1984, Texas A&M Cadet Bruce Goodrich dies the day after he arrived at Texas A&M University before he spent one day in a university class.


The History: 

Bruce Goodrich was raised Webster, New York

He was enrolled at Texas A&M University in the Fall of 1984.

Bruce was only on campus a few days before he died.

He was being initiated into “The Cadet Corp” at Texas A&M.

The Texas A&M corp is composed of approximately  2,150-member Cadets.

In the beginning, “The Cadet Corps” was mandatory for all students at Texas A & M

In 1960, being a member of “The Cadet Corp” was voluntary.

Texas A&M (home of the Aggies) is located 90 miles northwest of Houston.

At the time, Texas A&M had approximately 36,000 students.  Today it has approximately 69,000 and is the largest university in Texas.

Bruce Goodrich was being initiated into “The Cadet Corp” at Texas A&M.

He was awakened in the early morning hour — around 2:30 a.m., August 30th

As part of his initiation, Bruce was being forced to engage in some “motivational exercises” (see newspaper article below).

As part of his initiation, Bruce was forced to run, do pushups and situps for about an hour in hot and humid conditions.

He was forced to run until he dropped.  He dropped and never got up.

Bruce Goodrich collapsed on the morning of September 1st and died that afternoon, the same day, in the local hospital.

Preliminary Assessment: Heat Stroke — The final coroner’s report stated that he died of “Cardiac Arrhythmia.”

Bruce was 20 years old.

Bruce never got to spend one day in class at Texas A&M University.

Three Texas A&M University cadets were expelled from the university.

On September 28, 1984, the three students were charged with his death and indicted by a Grand Jury — “criminally negligent homicide.”

The charges carried the maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The fourth cadet who was “involved” withdrew from the university.  He was charged with tampering with evidence.

Each of the three students charged was given a “probationary year” in jail, community service, and a $2,000 fine

Jeff Alford, spokesman of Texas A&M, said  — ‘There are written procedures that prohibit hazings, and every year those rules are stressed to members of the Corps . . . . ‘There’s no way to really stop it unless you put an adult on every floor of the dormitory.'”

Texas made hazing illegally — entirely — in 1987.

A “Bruce Goodrich Sophomore Leadership Award” was established to be given to an outstanding sophomore by the university.  Bruce Goodrich never made it through his Freshman year!

October 17, 2009, two students at Texas A&M were charged with hazing which injured a student, Clayton Williams — Williams suffered “an internal injury that later required several invasive medical procedures,” according to a police report.

In The Words Of His Father:

“A short time after the tragedy, Bruce’s father wrote this letter to the administration, faculty, student body, and the corps of cadets:

“I would like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of my family for the great outpouring of concern and sympathy from Texas A & M University and the college community over the loss of our son Bruce. We were deeply touched by the tribute paid to him in the battalion. We were particularly pleased to note that his Christian witness did not go unnoticed during his brief time on campus.”

Mr. Goodrich went on: “I hope it will be some comfort to know that we harbor no ill will in the matter. We know our God makes no mistakes. Bruce had an appointment with his Lord and is now secure in his celestial home. When the question is asked, ‘Why did this happen?’ perhaps one answer will be, ‘So that many will consider where they will spend eternity. ‘“


Bruce Goodrich newspaper article escanaba daily press


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

Forgiveness flows out of a heart which understands God’s sovereignty.

Personal Tragedy is a time when our testimony as Christians can be heard the loudest.

Understanding the will of God is one of God’s helps on the road to personal peace.

Some lessons are never learned, no matter how tragic the event.

It started out as a normal day — Just like yours did today.

Comforting others with the comfort whereby we are comforted.

It was “Too Late” when they realized what had happened  — They “could not revive him.”

Sometimes people do things in groups that they would never do alone.

The answer to wrong-doing at times is “cover your tracks” – tamper with the evidence.

It was not intentional, but that does not make it any less sad — does it.

Thank God, there is another time and another place!  This is not where life ends!

Life is but a vapor.

How can you not ask “why” even if the “why” may never be known or understood?

Say not, “Today or Tomorrow we will do this or that.” Say, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”

“So that many will consider where they will spend eternity. “



Other Information & Links:

In many college fraternities and sororities, and other organizations, hazing is considered “a rite of passage.”

Hazing is the abuse of a student to gain admittance to an organization.  It can include physical harm, sexual misconduct, illegal activity, and alcohol abuse.

Typically, most college, universities, and state have laws addressing the practice of hazing.  Typically, a hazing violation is considered a misdemeanor.

“Hazing” which does not cause bodily harm is a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  If there is bodily harm, it is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

From 1969 to 2017, there has been at least one hazing death every year.

There have been forty hazing deaths from 2007-2017.

Alcohol poising has been the leading cause of hazing deaths

Click to access TexasHazingLaws.pdf

Click to access TexasHazingLaws.pdf



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